Is there a way to filter Google/Gmail results to exclude results where a search term appears only in certain contexts?

I spend a lot of time looking for results related to state taxes, so I monitor a lot of think tanks and the like using the terms "state" and "tax." Unfortunately, I end up getting a lot results where "state" is triggered only because someone is talking about the United States. Similarly, I try to filter e-mails based on whether they include the word "tax," but then everything gets by if it mentions that "your donation is tax-exempt."

I'd like to find a way to further filter these, but simply doing a -"United States" or -"tax-deductible" is too heavy-handed, because I may want an e-mail that discusses taxes but also uses the "tax-exempt" language.

For example, I would want a search to return "The United States has 50 states," but I'd want it to exclude "There United States is awesome."

Is there any way to do this with Boolean operators? I'm guessing it would be easy enough with regular expressions, but as far as I can tell, Gmail doesn't support it (also: I don't actually know regex.)


One option is to surround the individual words with quotes, i.e.

"state" "tax"

This way, you're not removing results (using -"United States" -"tax-deductible") simply because they contain those phrases.

Adding quotes around single words prioritizes them in your search to Google.

Here's the search for "state" "tax", which appears to give you what you want: targeted results on state taxes. Clicking on the News option of the search might be even better for you.

  • Thanks. That'll definitely be helpful in Google; I'll just still have to find another solution for Gmail, since its filters don't really try to do any kind relevance ranking.
    – bdb484
    Jul 21 '14 at 14:13

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